My parents brought me home not to a pastel themed nursery and a crib with bars, but to a berth on a thirty foot wooden pilot cutter. I can still feel the reassuring hold and sturdy give of the net that caught me if I rolled out in my slumber or if the seas were too rough. I spent my first three formative years in the womb of that craft, ceaselessly rocking on the undulating sea, the perfect bassinet.

I could swim before I could walk, wriggling through the brine between outstretched arms. In my amphibious infancy I was nicknamed froggie, as I preferred the swimming to just about anything else. My mother had to take me to my grandparents' house to force me to walk because in the enclosed space below decks and up above there was always a way to steady my steps in easy reach. I would drunkenly sway on land for the first few moments the way a landlubber would weave on a ship. My legs were sea legs.

On deck, I was strapped to the mast by a harness that I wore when we were not docked. The cutter was my home, and I navigated it as surely as any toddler in their playroom. A seven-foot bowsprit jutted out from her like the tusk of a narwhal, and I loved to cling to it, arms and legs wrapped around with my head hanging down to watch the prow split the waves... dipping and rising.

My first cognizant memory was there, riding the horn of my sea unicorn, watching a bevy of dolphins race my home, tacking back and forth and flipping to torpedo on their backs and jumping rhythmically to entertain me. Flying fast and low over the water, the churning sound of the sea being divided as the spray misted me remains one of the most exhilarating and glorious experiences of my life.

Sea" u"ni*corn (?). Zool.

The narwhal.

 

© Webster 1913.

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